The Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) recently announced that more than 200,000 sick children have been screened for the disease since October 2012, thanks to the MRF’s Action Meningitis intervention project.
Meningitis is a serious illness that can significantly disable or kill patients in a matter of hours. Previous statistics about Malawi’s meningitis rates showed that over half of the infants and children who contract meningitis die from it. In contrast, only one out of 10 children in the U.K. dies from meningitis.
Many Malawians misdagnose meningitis, with more than half of meningitis cases being mistreated as malaria. Misdiagnoses and delayed treatments are detrimental.
To improve the situation, MRF, the Ministry of Health from Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, and Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust collaborated to begin Action Meningitis.
The program is implemented in eight different clinics with 250 health workers trained to triage the children. Using cell phones, health workers diagnose children who have meningitis and place them into prioritized categories. The triage method enables health professionals to diagnose and treat the illness quickly and efficiently.
In addition, MRF sponsors a radio program to create further awareness about meningitis by educating the public of its symptoms and dangers.
“It's great news that our project has triaged so many children and undoubtedly it has saved many lives,” Thomasena O’Byrne, project manager for Action Meningitis in Blantyre, said. “We will continue to work with local clinics to ensure that they identify children who are seriously ill and get them the appropriate medical help as soon as possible.”